Now, researchers at UCSD School of Medicine have shown that Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology has the potential to non-invasively characterize tumors and determine which of them may be responsive to specific forms of treatment, based on their specific molecular properties. The study will be published on line by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) the week of March 24.
“This approach reveals that, using existing imaging techniques, we can identify the molecular properties of tumors,” said Michael Kuo, M.D., assistant professor of interventional radiology at UCSD School of Medicine. Kuo and colleagues analyzed more than 2,000 genes that had previously been shown to have altered expression in Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) tumors. They then mapped the correlations between gene expression and MRI features.
The researchers also identified characteristic imaging features associated with overall survival of patients with GBM, the most common and lethal type of primary brain tumor.
The researchers discovered five distinct MRI features that were significantly linked with particular gene expression patterns. For example, one specific characteristic seen in some images is associated with proliferation of the tumor, and another with growth and formation of new blood vessels within the tumor–both of which are susceptible to treatment with specific drugs.
These physiological changes seen in the images are caused by genetic programs, or patterns of gene activation within the tumor cells. Some of these programs are tightly associated with drug targets, so when they are detected, they could indicate which patients would respond to a particular anti-cancer therapy, according to the researchers.
“For the first time, we have shown that the activity of specific molecular programs in these tumors can be determined based on MRI scans alone,” said Kuo. “We were also able to link the MRI with a group of genes that appear to be involved in tumor cell invasion–a phenotype associated with a reduced rate of patient survival.”
Laboratory work that relies on tissue samples is routinely used to diagnose and guide treatment for GBM. However, the biological activity shown may depend on the portion of the tumor from which the tissue sample is obtained. The researchers have shown that MRI could be used to identify differences in gene expression programs within the same tumor.
“Gene expression results in the production of proteins, which largely determine a tumor’s characteristics and behavior. This non-invasive MRI method could, for example, detect which part of a tumor expresses genes related to blood vessel formation and growth or tumor cell invasion,” said Kuo. “Understanding the genetic activity could prove to be a very strong predictor of survival in patients, and help explain why some patients have better outcomes than others.”
Kuo also led a study, published in Nature Biotechnology in May 2007, correlating CT images of cancerous tissue with gene expression patterns in liver tumors. “In the new study, we were able to take a different imaging technology, MRI, and apply it to a totally different tumor type,” he said, noting that the studies open up promising new avenues for non-invasive diagnoses and classification of cancer.
Debra Kain | EurekAlert!
Visualizing gene expression with MRI
23.12.2016 | California Institute of Technology
Illuminating cancer: Researchers invent a pH threshold sensor to improve cancer surgery
21.12.2016 | UT Southwestern Medical Center
For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.
According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
24.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
24.01.2017 | Life Sciences
24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy